Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ocean City

Today was one of those days that went by really fast. I was on my feet right away as I ran over to the store to get some bagels and milk. We had to wait about half an hour for the buses which was upsetting because I could have been sleeping but at least it was time spent with my friends. Then we loaded onto the buses, did a headcount and went on our way. I went on the bus intending to read my book, but one of our counselors put on the movie “Zombieland” and I decided to watch it for the second time. Zombieland is yet another one of those movies that is stupid but entertaining. It did its job as an entertainment source and the next time I looked away from the screen I was looking at Ocean City, New Jersey.

Ocean City strongly reminded me of the West Coast and specifically Santa Cruz, California. Even though my first impulse was to run straight into the water, I managed to wait about 2 minutes for my sun screen to ‘dry’ and then dove straight into the water. After almost a week of 90 plus degree heat, touching the cold ocean water felt liberating. I helped out a couple of my friends that were hesitating on the shore by dunking them in the water.

I waded into the water until I couldn’t touch the sand anymore and then I tried to body surf some. I had a lot of fun playing with my friends in the ocean and after we swam for about an hour we walked onto the boardwalk and found a pizza place. The pizzas that they served at the restaurant we went to were literally the biggest I have ever seen. They were 26 inches in diameter and loaded with toppings, so we figured one was plenty to feed the six of us. Besides being massive, the pizza was really delicious and of course filling.

As soon as we finished our lunch and we were ready to go back into the water the predicted weather finally arrived. I was glad that the weather forecast was inaccurate as usual, because the forecast predicted thunderstorms all day, but we didn’t get any until the afternoon. It was still disappointing that we couldn’t swim any more, but we decided to spend some time on the boardwalk. On the boardwalk there was a plethora of shops and restaurant s so we decided to look around at some of the close by shops. I went into a couple of T-shirt shops and looked around but eventually realized that I wouldn’t want to wear any of the shirts in the store because they were all ridiculous.

Finally, it was time for us to head back to Philadelphia on our buses. We popped in another movie, but I was tired so I didn’t really pay that much attention to it. As I just said I was mentally tired, but I still had some energy left to burn off so when we got back I decided to go to the gym with my friend Fred. Sometimes I like working out alone, but it’s a lot easier to stick with an exercise schedule if you do it with a friend. Therefore, I really appreciated Fred pushing me to go to the gym with him so that I could avoid gaining my ‘Freshman Fifteen’ before my freshman year of college. After the gym we went to dinner at the 1920 dining commons where we usually go and I had a nice sandwich on a roll.

After I got back to my dorm, my evening wound down a little bit which was nice. I called my sister and had a long chat with her about her summer work and my stay here at UPenn. A little bit later I also got to talk to my mom and hear about her vacation with my dad (Clearly making the best of my absence). I have enjoyed my time at UPenn so much that it has flown by faster than I can believe. With only 6 days left, I intend to make the most out of these last moments.

The Atlantic

Today's day trip was probably my favorite of all. We drove down to Ocean City in New Jersey after a quick breakfast from Wawa. As soon as we got off the bus and lathered on some sunscreen, we ran for the waves to avoid boiling in the heat. It occurred to me that I had never swam in Atlantic before. It was an altogether different experience than the beaches back in California, especially the always cold Ocean Beach in San Fransisco. The first things I noticed was how ridiculously crowded the beach was, but I suppose the people come with the sun.

We had a lot of fun messing around in the waves which were a little more violent towards the shore than those in the Pacific making for some prime body surfing. We spent a couple hours battling the ocean and getting salt water up our noses before we got completely exhausted and hungry.

It's a good thing too because the pizza place we found on the board walk served 26 inch pizzas. That is the size of one of my mountain bike tires. I had to fold my piece in half just to eat it, but six of us managed to finish it off so it must have been delicious.

After lunch, we had about thirty minutes to look at some gift shops, grab a delicious gelato, and soak up some sun before we had to leave. We planed on leaving at four, but we bumped it up to 2:30 on account of the storm clouds brewing ominously in the distance. I am still getting used to the crazy extreme east coast weather. It is rather bizarre.

I was sad to leave so early but I really enjoyed my time at the beach and if I were to become an undergraduate at Penn, I can totally see myself making the trip to spend some time in the ocean when I get a chance.

When I got back to the dorms I washed up and took a quick power nap to recover from all the swimming we did. When I woke up, I headed down to the dining hall for dinner. On my way back I bought a Thai Tea tapioca drink from Beijing, a restaurant next door to the quad. It was almost as good as the tapioca drinks the ASU sells at our school carnivals. I definitely appreciate all the great food that is available for us right here on campus.

After dinner, I did some laundry and got some rest for the start of our final week of class. I can not believe three weeks has gone by so quickly.

Ocean City, We Barely Knew Thee

The long-awaited trip to Ocean City had finally arrived. We awoke this morning at a quarter to nine and prepared for our big day. We all gathered our towels, sunscreen, and plenty of water and headed to the Jersey shore. The drive was a little longer than I had anticipated. I looked up the drive on my phone yesterday and Google Maps approximated that it would take a little over an hour, but we had time to watch Zombieland and then still have another twenty minutes worth of driving (which would put it around two hours worth of driving). I was really hoping we could have gotten to the beach earlier so we could beat some of the crowds. However, I was ok with the drive taking a bit longer because I had never seen Zombieland and it was a funny movie. Once we did arrive though, I was anxious to get into the water.

We arrived at the boardwalk and our first stop was the surf shack right next to the entrance. I waited for Brian to get swim trunks while the rest of the group went to set up camp. It was more difficult to find camp than I originally hoped. In the sea of umbrellas and lawn chairs, it was impossible to see anything or anyone that resembled our group. We decided to set our things down somewhere and just join them later. We ran into the water and started our search for our friends. We found them pretty quickly and began our aquatic shenanigans. Although I can’t swim, I was still able to have a good time in the ocean. Today, I learned that the Atlantic Ocean is much rougher than the Pacific. The waves were higher, stronger, and faster than anything I have ever encountered on a beach in California (but then again I am not one to frequent beaches, so that isn’t saying much). The rough waves made it that much more fun though. While most of the swimmers decided to body surf when the big waves rolled in, I would just let each wave carry me as far as it could. I fell down a couple of times, but we were in shallow enough water that it was safe. We stayed in the water for about an hour before we decided to get out, dry off, and get some lunch.

We walked onto the boardwalk and browsed our options for lunch. There were a lot of smoothie, candy, and fish places, but not too many restaurants. We managed to find a pizza shop that served huge pizzas. There were two options for ordering pizza: by the slice, or a whole pizza. We opted to go for the whole pizza and just split the bill. Whole pizzas at this restaurant are a whopping twenty-six inches in diameter! That’s about as big as the tire on a mountain bike. It was insanely big. The shop even had a challenge that they offered. The challenge was that if one person could finish one of these pizzas in “x” amount of time, they would get “y” amount of free pizzas (ex. If you finish a pizza in forty five minutes, you get twenty-five free pizzas). I was tempted to try it, but before I could give it much thought, they informed us that the challenge was only available on Tuesdays. This probably worked out in my favor…

After lunch, we learned that we had to return to the busses at 2:30 due to thunderstorms off the coast. This was saddening because I had hoped to get more time in the cold ocean before having to return to the humidity of the mainland. We used the remainder of our time to look at some of the shops that they had on the boardwalk. They had things such as mini golf, sweets shops, and a lot of custom t-shirt shops. I tried to buy a shirt that had Charlie Sheen’s face on it that said “Winning”, but they were all out of that design. Luckily I was able to get a shirt with an equally amusing design. I found a shirt that read “Cool Story Bro”, which is a phrase my sarcastic friends and I like to use every now and then when we feel like giving each other a hard time. I think my friends will really get a kick out of it. Soon enough, it was time to return to Penn.

On the ride back, I decided to relax and listen to some music. The ride back seemed to go much faster than the ride there…that is until we hit traffic from the Phillies game. That added another half hour to our travel time. When we got back, I tried to get my things back to the dorm as quickly as possible so I could be one of the first on my floor to get a shower. I really did not want to have to wait for all the other guys on my floor so I was trying to seem inconspicuous and move quickly at the same time. Luckily I was one of the first in the showers. After I cleaned up, I waited for Onur, Fred, Alison, and Brian to do the same so we could go to dinner. We ate at the commons tonight, which actually wasn’t bad because the food was better than it has been the past few times I had been there. After dinner, our group disbanded and we went to do different things. I returned to the dorm, Brian and Fred went to the gym, and Alison went to study. Onur stuck around with me and it was nice to have company.

Although the day was not as exciting as I had originally hoped, we all still had a good time getting pushed around by the Atlantic and touring the boardwalk. Our final week is beginning. The next couple of days in class will be spent in our three different lab groups (one from Hershey, one from our special interest groups, and another from our exponential change labs). We will be preparing presentations on our respective topics and will have to present them over Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The last leg of the race is here. I feel very prepared to present all of the material this week and I feel confident that my groups will do well.